Can a Border Collie Live in an Apartment: Everything You Need to Know

Border Collies are incredibly active outdoor dogs who love to run and play. They need space and plenty of activities to keep them busy and happy. Moving around and stretching their legs is a Border Collie’s bread and butter. What does that mean for people who live in apartments or condos without yards? Can you keep a happy Border Collie in a smaller space, or is it time to find your furry friend a new home with the space they deserve?

Can a border collie live in an apartment? A Border Collie is one of the smarter breeds, and they have both the need for physically active play and mental challenges. It means you need to commit to taking them out for plenty of activities and walks, but you can keep your beloved pet in an apartment. When you put in the effort they need to keep them busy at home and a BC will do just fine. 

Border Collies in Family Apartments

Before we get to general tips and tricks for Border Collies in apartments, we need to talk about BC’s and kids. While it’s widely held that these super smart and easily trainable dogs make fantastic pets, there are times when they don’t do so well. If you’re a family person, especially one with small kids, then this is important.

If you have small children, then it might be better to wait a few years before bringing a Border Collie into your home, especially if you’re very busy or easily distracted. While dogs, like people, have various temperaments within each breed, BCs can be a bit persistent. That can be bad news for small children who can’t hold their own as easily. However, it bears noting that a very well trained dog can do well with little kids too.

Keep in mind that this isn’t universally true, but it is common enough to be worth mentioning. If you have a small space with kids in it already, that could make your pet feel more need to compete for attention and ‘position’ within the family. A smart dog is a fantastic companion for older children, but very young kids don’t have the stature or understanding to handle a Border Collie who is trying to herd them. Sadly many adults don’t understand what they’re looking at either.

Pet owners who don’t understand a BC’s instincts may not know how to train them, which causes problems down the line. An untrained pup can go overboard with their instinctual reactions, which can lead to nipping and other ‘bad’ behavior. While Border Collies can make great family pets, you need a very active and attentive family to raise a happy pup.

Border Collies Herding Kids in Apartments

Please don’t mistake my meaning, most Border Collies are very sweet-tempered, even in a small apartment with small kids, aren’t trying to hurt anyone. They are herding dogs. The instinct to wrangle sheep is easily translated into herding kids. Essentially, your toddler is the same as anything else your BC is trying to take care of, but the methods for kids and sheep are vastly different.

The most important thing to understand is that you have to redirect the behavior, which requires training. You have to learn to recognize the focused stare Border Collies get when they’re about to move into herding behavior. Then you have to catch them at it consistently.

When you see your Collie starting to focus and head toward herding behavior redirect by distracting them. You can throw a toy, take a walk, or even make a loud noise (though you don’t want to scare the dog every time their instincts kick in).

The same training trick that works to keep a Border Collie from herding your kids will keep him or her from herding other pets. It takes some vigilance, but so does any other form of dog training. With patience, and time you can train your favorite pooch to quit herding indoors.

What Border Collies In Apartments Need

All dogs need love and attention regardless of whether you’re a Border Collie inside an apartment or a Chihuahua in an LA mansion. Obviously, your dog needs to be fed daily, and have clean water, regular vet visits, and time to play. However, BCs have other needs because they’re so bright.

  1. Take a Border Collie outside at least a couple of times a day so they can play.
  2. Consider waiting until your kids are a little older unless you have the time to train both.
  3. Make sure you have enough space for kids and a Border Collie in your apartment.
  4. Learn to identify herding behavior in your Collie and divert their attention so they don’t herd children and other pets.

A bored Border Collie is a recipe for disaster, especially in a smaller space. Because in nature they’d run the energy off, letting your indoor BC get too much pent up energy will come out in unexpected ways. Rather than run that risk, you need to make sure that they get two things, outdoor time and indoor challenges like agility training and games.

When you’re heading outside, I highly suggest agility training. Walking (or running, whichever applies) your BC through a series of moves designed to keep them limber and feeling challenged is one of the best ways to double down on binding and exercise at the same time.

I prefer the PawHut Four Piece Obstacle Dog Agility Training Course Kit I picked up on Amazon because it lets me change up the challenges by moving the parts around. You can check it out for yourself by clicking here. 

Smart pups like Border Collies love agility training and take to it with ease. It makes them think and listen while using their bodies. Hence an excellent agility course is perfect for your smart herding dog.

Other Activities For Border Collies Who Live in Apartments

There are plenty of playful and challenging activities you can do inside your apartment to keep a Border Collie happy. If you’ve adopted an older dog, then you may not need to worry so much as you would about a puppy or a young dog. Regardless, even aging BCs need mental and physical stimulation.

One way to keep a bored dog busy that also plays to their natural strengths is a foraging mat. Using a cloth mat with food scattered throughout gives your BC a chance to solve problems. It also makes them eat slowly and expend extra energy to find what they need. It’s fun and stress relieving for your pup.

The best forage mat I’ve found so far is the SNiFFiz SmellyMatty Snuffle Mat. You can connect the pieces together and create larger or smaller mats, plus I wash mine int the machine when my dog is done eating, so there’s not a lot of muss or fuss, and I don’t have to worry about bowls of food left out all day attracting bugs. You can get one for your apartment dwelling Border Collie by clicking here.  

Get Outside Your Apartment & Go Play

Whatever you enjoy, from sitting and reading a book to hiking and riding a bike, you can find a way to get your Border Collie outside while you do it. Admittedly, BCs make ideal pets for active people who enjoy being outside, but you can sit under a tree at the dog park and read too.

The important thing is letting your pet spend their energy, so they don’t turn it into destructive behavior. The size of your space is less the issue than how much time and attention you can give your Border Collie. They are very social and devoted dogs who want to be around you and play with you. Most aren’t prone to just running off to do ‘mysterious doggy things’ if they can engage with you instead. A human companion is almost like having a pack and a herd to watch all in one.

Whether it’s a walk around the block or a full-blown doggy agility course followed by a visit to one of those dog spas, your Border Collie needs you more than they need a four thousand square foot house and a ranch for a back yard.

When A Border Collie is Not the Right Pet for Your Apartment

The downside to loving Border Collies if you live in an apartment is that it’s true, they may not be the right pet for you. More accurately, you might not be the right human for them. Individual personalities of dogs aside, many of the generalizations about the breed are true. These dogs need to run, play, and have regular mental challenges.

If that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, or you can’t imagine how you’d make time for ‘all that,’ then please reconsider. There are many breeds of dogs who are less active and not so bright that they need genius dog level mental stimulation. Raising a happy Border Collie isn’t about the size of your yard at all, but rather the size of your availability and willingness to give it to your dog.

Final Thoughts

Border Collies are beautiful, adaptable, and loyal dogs. However, you need to have time for them because they are high maintenance. Keep your BC entertained and spend lots of time playing with them, and they’ll be happy wherever you live.

If you can’t find or afford a larger space with a yard, your dog will be just fine. Learn all you can about the breed and pay attention when they start to act out because they’re bored. It’s easiest to raise them from puppies because you can nip the herding behavior in the bud, but the adults are more than smart enough to learn new tricks too.

You can live happily ever after in an apartment with a Border Collie. Just keep in mind that, like smart human roommates, they have needs too, and they get bored quickly.

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